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Setting up and E-Commerce Site

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Ricki Lambert

E-Commerce Assignment 4

Setting up an E-Commerce Site

Introduction

In the document I shall be looking at e-commerce at a more detailed business level. Firstly I shall be considering why and how an everyday person would set up an e-commerce site. Once this has been achieved I shall write a report giving examples of internet companies which offer e-commerce setup services to client companies. Finally, I will be writing a strategy document for a business to use to implement and support e-commerce trading. I will be taking in to consideration the cost and time and labour resources. This will be inclusive of an analysis model which details how the existing organisational culture will be affected.

Task 1

Setting up an e-commerce website has many positives that make it an attractive proposition to the every day user. The cheap labour costs, the need for little or no lease of property, the day to day running costs and maintenance levels, all kept strictly to a minimum compare do that of the bricks and mortar stores. To further this we have the world wide market to sell our product to, so this can involve selling globally. This is another way to help maximise profits, something that a simple bricks and mortar store couldn’t do. But, how can these types of web sites be implemented and what are the requirements and consideration that’s need to be undertaken when taking on this new venture? Below I shall give my thoughts and list to creating an e-commerce web site.

  1. Before anything, we need to consider firstly, who are our competitors, what are they selling, how much are they selling for and further to this, are we going to be competitive, in other words, will we be bale to compete and have a realistic chance of making a profit. Pretty general considerations, but if not considered then we could be heading down a one way street where money is going to be lost.
  1. We have to now consider the naming of the brand or business, this is important as there are many problems that could arise at this stage. Fir example, if a person wished to call their brand or business Vista, then we could have a problem with patent laws from Microsoft as they have an operating system called this. This is why it’s important to consider our business name before we go any further.
  1. Once the above has been considered and we have drawn up our proposals and deemed there is a gap in the market then we can continue to the next stage. The next stage involves registration. This is a very important consideration if we are to run an internet business legally. There are many legal implications that need to be followed in order for the e-commerce site to be acceptably incorporated in to the business world. To find out what we need to do we must visit the local town hall, the town council, the city council, and the county council. Sometimes we may be obliged to adopt and follow local laws, this may be to do with trading, or delivery’s and so on, and for other businesses it may involve international laws, for example the selling of meat to other countries, the meat may be banned and so on.
  1. What we need to also consider is the address from which the business can be run, for example, in some places like council houses its not appropriate to run a business from, so this may limit the potential of your business, further to this, if there are neighbours we need to consider the posting of goods and items, is this going to impact on them? If so then we need to consider a creation of a P.O Box address. This can be setup by going to the local post office and paying a small fee, from here we have a postal address that avoids conflicting to neighbours.  
  1. Now we have a postal address we need to take on board the fact that standard addresses on the internet may not be appropriate for the amount of mail we are to receive. Internet service providers like BT and Virgin offer the business creators options for commercial services; this provides better security, more space and other features beneficial to the business sector that maybe a home user wouldn’t find necessary. It does however come at a higher rate and this need is to be considered.
  1. As for the business itself it is going to need a firm basis to work from. This may consist of an office, in which case we may need a computer, a chair, a desk, a fax machine a network of computers. The list in endless, in which case we need to budget for these and buy as appropriate, buying unnecessarily however does impact on profit and loss however.
  1. Promoting the business is very important. Setting up the website is going to be costly and we need to have a vast array of things that needs to be done to it, these range from security packages, encryption, to the likes of search engine optimisation. Search engine optimisation is very important and has to be taken seriously, the better this is done the more change of business we have. On top of this web hosting is an important consideration. Hosting is important as we need to consider the possibilities of expansion, by getting the right web hosting we find the correct balance for space and the more products we could store if we needed to.
  1. We finally move on to the marketing stage. If we have enough money to do so then we cannot afford to over look the process of marketing. Marketing comes in useful for e-commerce sites as it lets people no it exists, the more people that find out about it the better. There are a number of ways this can be done, from Radio broadcasts to television adverts, to simply getting affiliates to brand your logo on their page for a small subscription cost.

Task 2

Companies have taken it upon themselves to adopt the strategy of setting up other businesses e-commerce websites. By this I mean that for a small subscription cost we can pay another firm to do the work for us. Let’s have a look at what some of the firms are offering and how we can go about the setup stage.

There are two parts to selling on the Net. Firstly we have the task of getting people to your site, and selling to them once they get there. Both need a combination of technical and marketing skills. So either you need to acquire the skills, or buy someone in to help. The good news is that everything can be self-taught, but there are also plenty of reasonably priced practitioners around.

I shall be using the website http://www.ambrow.com/ecomm_services.htm as my example business as well as another which shall be written about later on in the document. Ambrow aim to provide businesses with the functionality of an e-commerce website. But exactly what do they suggest is important and how does it relate to my list in the previous task? Let’s have a look.

The system adopted by the company looks at the following key areas. The strategies and items they use shall be in bold, and then my explanation of how it relates to my list shall be written next to it.

  • Fully functional catalogue system set up ready to use – This is a good feature, and saves a lot of work for the client, as far as I have said in my list we need to set up the e-commerce web site. This stage falls in to this bracket. The catalogue system will enable the user to put their brands straight in to the “catalogue” in order for users of the website to be able to browse through them, this stage for a day to day user would be a complex task to create.
  • Secure server facilities for payment transactions – I have mentioned this briefly in my document, the need for secure services and methods of payment is extremely crucial to the every day user. If we don’t have a secure connection then the chances of money being stolen or the websites being hacked is very great. This is again a tricky proposition for the every day person to implement in to their website, so the service is looking useful so far.
  • Designed and integrated into your existing website - This has been mentioned in my list but in an alternative way, this firm is under the assumption that the website has already been created and therefore the e-commerce facilities need to be incorporated in to it. This sometimes isn’t the case and would probably be more beneficial to the client to design, build and implement the e-commerce website all in one go opposed to doing it the other way round.
  • Full e-mail support - E-mail is vital for a business and this was outlined in the original task. The e-mail serves will be looked after by the firm and they will obviously control features such as maintenance and upgrades if necessary.
  • Unlimited number of products (you pay for web space separately) – This is a very useful service and means that the business has no limitations in the amount that it can sell. Therefore if the business becomes very successful and they need to expand then there are very little limitations on the quantity of products that can be displayed.
  • Hooks up with the major on-line credit card providers easily – This is very important as the link with major credit cards will not limit the businesses potential custom.  The majority of people buying online will be using a major credit card and this will make it easier for them to buy.
  • Uploading of your own images – Provides a interface that’s personal to that of the owners of the business meaning they have a control over the look of the website, this is very useful for displaying images of the products and so on.
  • Full on-line control of your catalogue yourself after set up – This then means that the business owner can update their products as and when they are needed to without having to go back to the setup firm

As we can see the majority of the services offered by the firm are the same as what I have outlined in task 1 of this document, the only thing that is different is the fact that this firm already presume the website is built already. This may be a problematic thing as some people adopt everything at the same time and this doesn’t cater for that possibility. The fact that the services allows the user to take full control over the catalogue is very good, this means that it is in their full control whilst if anything goes wrong they can still ask for the support and service of the people that created and implemented it in the first place.

Now we have looked at one firm that supplies the services of setting up an e-commerce site, let’s have a look at another. This time I shall be using the website http://www.affordablewebdesign.ca/ as my example. This firm opposed to the last one I looked at offer the complete package for website design and would be the better, but probably more expensive option for a new time e-commerce business. As we can see below they offer a whole list of functionalities, the main being the setup of the e-commerce customised shopping cart.

As we can see they offer affordable services and this is something that should be considered greatly by small businesses as they don’t know at first how there new business venture is going to fair. They offer a basic web package so at least this time everything is all included, and even if you have a website already then they offer a complete redesign. The redesign is useful even if it’s not taken up on. Again, if the site goes down the business need not worry as they will have maintenance as and when it is required. The graphics and design is offered as well as the domain name registration. The domain name registration is very good, this offers the chance for the user to have a personalised website address for example, if the business was Karl’s carpets, we could have the website www.karlscarpets.com if it wasn’t already in use.

  • A custom web design within your budget
  • A basic web package is available for the very budget-conscious
  • A complete redesign of your existing website
  • Website maintenance as you need it
  • Graphic designs for your website
  • Domain name registration
  • Yearly hosting at a very competitive rate
  • E-Commerce setup, including customized shopping cart
  • Content writing and management
  • Programming customized to your needs
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Search Engine ranking

Search engine optimisation as I said in the task one of this assignment is a key consideration that needs to be considered, this will allow for more hits on the website and for people to use it and by things.

One thing I have noticed however is that no one of the two offer any form of marketing per se. Obviously we have the domain name and the SEO but other than that we have nothing, this will then incur extra costs going elsewhere and is an important consideration. What can be said though is that if the users go to a nicely designed website with graphics and multimedia that looks professional they are more likely to buy, the design, the build and the quality needs to feel great, if this is achieved then successful purchases will happen and the more chance for repeat business will occur.

Below is a list of what should be considered in an e-commerce site that will make it attractive and user friendly.

  • Firstly we want to keep the clicks to a minimum. Every time you ask someone to click again, they have the option to forget your site and go elsewhere.
  • Start selling and get “Add to cart” buttons in front of them as soon as possible.
  • Address people’s concerns. Some people are worried about credit card security, so reassure them. Some won’t ever buy by credit card over the net, so give them an alternative. Provide a physical address and telephone number as this builds confidence and trust.
  • Keep on asking the question, what would I want if I was the buyer?

If the above steps are considered regularly and reviewed over a long period of time we can deduce hat the site will remain successful and user friendly, a user friendly site is what we are trying to achieve more than anything, as after all, if we are being serious about the venture then we will realise the site is for the attraction, the benefits and the needs of the users and nobody else.

Task 3 – D3

E-commerce

In this task I shall be outlining a strategy that could be used for an organisation that would support the use of e-commerce. It will take in to consideration the cost and time resources and will include an impact analysis model for the existing organisation culture.  

E-commerce for any business has got to be a definite consideration, merely for the opportunities that is presents business owners with. Let’s have a look at my outline strategy for a proposed business.

Firstly we need to devise a diagram this going to outline all of the areas that are going to need to be included as part of the creation of an e-commerce business, this can be seen below;

Now we have considered what needs to be involved in the e-commerce business we need to have a look in more depth to see what these steps actually will involve. This can be seen below;

Website

The website needs to have a certain layout, which means the design stage will incur costing and on top of this we need to make and include the logo, which hopefully should already been created. Further more we need to understand what we need in the site, do we want any PHP, JavaScript or just standard HTML.

Branding

The brand needs to be marketed across the internet; this would involve the business using search engine optimisation, using affiliates and other sorts of marketing. Some can be costly so this needs to be taken in to account

Security

Security is a very big issue, we can use differing security measures, from using independent chain linked servers to having as little as virus protection and anti malware / spy ware. This needs to be looked at in more detail

Employees

Do we want to employ professionals to run the website, look after it and maintain it or can we do it ourselves? If we choose to do it ourselves will we ensure that it we do it efficiently or professionally

Location

Is one of the most important things to consider, do we wish to operate solely from home, do we wish to have a warehouse, small garage or what? This is obviously going to incur more cost the greater the storage space.

Money Exchange

Money exchange does fall under the brackets of security but there are other features that need to be considered, pay pal, bucket shops and so on

Web Hosting

Web hosting is very important, what sort of packages can we get for business and are they worth it?

Updates

Updates are critical on the system, do we want to pay someone to do it for us, or can we do it ourselves, in top of this what about software updates and hardware?

Equipment

What sort of equipment will we need to use, do we need to by computers routers, transportation, software, furniture and so on

Wholesaler

Who are we going to use as our wholesaler, the cheapest person or the person best fitted for what we need at a more costly price.

So above are the details of the breakdown of the involved processes and requirements that need to be thought off. By for the analysis of the impact we need to take in to consideration the costs, what’s going to increase the revenue (or what has the greater chance of increasing the revenue) and other thoughts like this. This will be the form of my impact analysis model.

Impact Analysis Model

Cost and Time Considerations

Web site

Inclusive of:

Using CSS

Java Script

PHP

HTML

Logo Design

Costs

The price of using any of the above is going to vary between £200 - £700+ dependant on what is chosen

£100

We can see that in the table above we have given rough price guides to how much these items will cost in relation to our website that we will have for e-commerce. Firstly we need to think do we need to build the website, if so, we need to ask what skills we have. We need to evaluate this first as the time limit is going to become lengthy if we have to learn a whole set of new languages and software packages in order to get the site to our desired specifications. Further to this we need to no what it is the user wants, in this case we would ask do they want a simple but effective layout?

I am personally going to suggest that all of them will increase productivity within the company, with the obvious to be stated, the more you spend the more you get. However, as a business just starting out we should be looking at the HTML option, possibly incurring the most basic of layouts, whilst maintaining a professional look to it. This will ultimately save us money and still provide the interface needed by customers. Also, it’s easier to accomplish by the average home user so there need not be too much learning taking place as we could use the WYSIWYG editors such as front page, this then makes it time efficient.

Branding/Marketing

Inclusive of:

Television Advertising

Radio Advertising

S.E.O

Local Shops

Costs

£1000

£600

£100

50p - £1 per shop

All the prices in the table above have been gathered off of the internet and our rough prices only. However to stress, the television and radio are somewhat more expensive than advertising on the internet. The good thing about doing this is that the internet has a large percentage of users and we therefore maximise the amount of people that use our site for a smaller price. To be honest, I believe local free ads and shops to be another good idea, these are smaller price and used by customers daily. Also however we have the option of expanding our campaign in the future dependant on whether we think it would be a good idea or not when our income / revenue have increased.

Search engine optimisation is the most key point here, for a small price we can pay a professional to tweak our website in order for it to rise in the search engine rankings, by doing so we can maximise the users that visit our site. This also is very time efficient meaning that the process shouldn’t take to long, this includes the local shops advertising which is also quite time and cost efficient.  

Security

Inclusive of:

Standard Safety

Increased Security package

Daisy Chain Servers

Costs

Free

£24.95 (1yr)

Price of independent servers

The price ranges for the security really do vary as well as the quality of service that you get. The standard service is normally free and fine for every day users. But, for businesses we need something a little more professional and something which has more functions. These functions are as follows;

  • Antivirus kernel
  • Automatic updates
  • Simple User Interface
  • PUSH updates
  • Enhanced User Interface
  • Virus Chest
  • Resident protection
  • System integration
  • Script blocker
  • Command-line scanner
  • P2P and IM Shields
  • Integrated Virus Cleaner
  • Network Shield
  • Support for 64-bit Windows
  • Web Shield
  • Internationalisation

Not only does it offer the business far greater security but it offers mail checks and on site scanning, this is definitely needed when there is money and personal details involved. The daisy chain servers is definitely worth consideration, however at first the size of the firm will be too small to implement this, also we need to realise the networking the servers will take a professional which will cost us money.

Overall I would definitely use the increased security package and it takes no time to sue at all making it very time efficient, all that needs to be done is for the programme to be installed and away we go, however for the programme to be updated it must be connected to the internet.

Employees

Inclusive of:

Professional

Myself

Costs

£400-500p/w

Free

We have two options when it comes to employment, firstly we could employ a professional, who would then control the entire on goings to do with the business, and this will be costly but efficient. The thing that needs to be determined is whether we will be working in our spare time or not. Mostly if we are skilled enough we should take charge of it. This would be a little les time efficient as jobs wouldn’t get completed as quickly

Location

Inclusive of:

Rented warehouse

Garage

Home

Costs

Dependant on Location

Free in some cases

Free

The storage space is really dependant on what the e-commerce site is going to be selling or offering, in most cases using your home address as the primary location is going to be fine and have absolutely no impact on the performance of the business what so ever. What we do need to remember is that the bigger the firm gets the more it needs to expand and simply working from home will not be suitable.

Money Exchange

Inclusive of:

Pay Pal

Shopping basket

Stand alone credit card

Costs

Free

Can be downloaded for small fee

Can be downloaded for small fee

These are really important features that need to be considered, money and payment is what is going to help the business succeed, and after all, the businesses main aim is to make a profit. Using pay pal is free and a safe way if allowing people to pay for goods and items over the internet. Implementing this again is easy and won’t mean we have to pay a professional for their services. On top of this we have the other options, shopping basket software is downloadable and some of it is free although I do recommend paying for a brand. For example we have the services that are offered by osCommerce.com plus other firms out there.

Productivity wise they are all going to increase how well the business functions, in most cases I would implement all three of the choices in the table and therefore we don’t limit how people can pay.

Web Hosting

Inclusive of:

Free

Subscription Based

Costs

Free

Ranges up to £50

There are many firms that we can use but most importantly is the effect that they will have on the impact of the business. We can see above that there are 2 types, but the subscription fee would be the best to adopt, this is because there are more services specifically offered to businesses. Essentially there isn’t a massive fee to be paid and when put in to context we can see that we are going to save money. In relation to time we can see that there is very little difference, we don’t actually have to do too much here only pick what type we need. Furthermore, the free one gives us plenty of advertising from other companies that we typically don’t want when we upload our site, the only other firms we wish to have advertised on our sites are that of our affiliates.

Equipment

Inclusive of:

Computers

Broadband

Sage Accounts

Office

Costs

Dependent on quantity

Dependant On quality

£200

£200

In the equipment properties we could have carried on listing and listing items until we had no money left. But that really wouldn’t be advisable. So to be more logical we have the above, all will increase the productivity of the business massively. Firstly the computers, the computers are integral as we will not be able to run the business otherwise, the quality of computer doesn’t matter to much although an up to date model would be better. Internet connection is another must have and again incurs a cost but not to big, also in this stage we could opt for a business broadband line which would then give us optional extras like mail addresses for the business, this will definitely impact upon productivity. Accounting software is very important as we will need to keep track of our profits, although this can be done in excel so this isn’t as important as buying Office. Office will be really important, will increase turnover and is relatively cheap for how often it would be used. Overall for time and costs I would implement all of the above except for sage accounts.

Outline Strategy

Now I have looked at every stage and created an impact analysis model I can see hat I believe to be necessary or useful whilst referencing them to the costs of each service. This has been extremely helpful and helped me eliminate possibly some really expensive methodologies that would have not increased productivity. Let’s have a look below at my 1st year proposals for the business.

  • HTML/CSS website built by either the creator or a professional
  • SEO and local shops for advertising
  • Increased security package for business
  • Take charge personally for the website
  • Work From Home
  • Include Pay Pal, and include basket and credit card payments
  • Use and buy, computers, office, and dedicated business broadband

These are all subject to change as the business increases but overall I believe there is a successful blend of experienced, dedicated software and knowledge whilst maintaining time and cost efficiency. The business owner must be prepared to put in a lot of work themselves else there will be no money left as profit when expenditure is accounted for.

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